Search is not the address bar

By Murray Bourne, 02 Feb 2006

I've noticed that a lot of users come to my sites via either Google or Yahoo!, having typed in something like "http://www.intmath.com/" into the search engine. Why don't they just type it into the address bar of the browser and go directly to the site?

The phenomenon is widespread. Across several different search engines, the top search terms are:

  1       206341        google
  2       185171        paris hilton
  3       164692        poetry
  4       156353        ebay
  5       154602        yahoo
  6       128164        games cheat
  7       125597        girls
  8       117455        jessica simpson
  9       115399        dogs
 10       111111        carmen electra
 11       104366        jenna jameson
 12       103345        pamela anderson
 13       102124        games
 14        98602        radio stations
 15        95691        eminem

So instead of typing "google.com" into their address bar, they are typing "google" into a Google (or other) search box, they are waiting for a search results page to appear with a link to "www.google.com" at the top, then they click on it. Hmmm...

But wait, there's more. If you look at the top 100 or so searches and combine the results for "google", "google.com", etc, the following pattern emerges:

1	283009		yahoo, yahoo.com, www,yahoo.com
2	282855		google, google.com, www.google.com
3	203709		ebay, ebay.com
4	185171		paris hilton
5	164692		poetry
6	136994		myspace, myspace.com
7	128164		games cheat
8	125597		girls
9	119593		hotmail, hotmail.com
10	117455		jessica simpson
11	115399		dogs
12	111111		carmen electra
13	104366		jenna jameson
14	103345		pamela anderson
15	102124		games

So Yahoo! is the winner, just.

It goes to show how important search has become when huge numbers of people are using a search engine to find a search engine. (I know some of the above stats are due to people actually looking for information about Yahoo!, Google, or eBay, but this does not explain the high number of searches for these terms).

Footnote 1: The source for the above information is an interesting story. I subscribe to The Wordtracker Report. This is a weekly review of the top 500 search terms used on several search engines. The report comes in 2 flavours - a "family" version (taking out the naughty words) and a "real" version. I have used the sanitised version for my lists above (this is a family site, after all). But why can't people face truths, even though they may be unpalatable at times?

Footnote 2: I am saying "Search is not the address bar", but conversely, search can be done in the address bar of Firefox. This is one of the many things I like about FF.

See the 1 Comment below.

One Comment on “Search is not the address bar”

  1. Preetam Rai says:

    Search is the best way of quickly finding the information you looking for on most sites. Users just don't have the patience of going through the navigation the web-designer has come up with.

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